Friday, June 06, 2008

Macleans/BCHRT: another take

Dan Gardner, writing in the Ottawa Citizen, gives his take on the Macleans BCHRT hearings (starring Mark Steyn) that took place in Vancouver this past week:
"I envy Mark Steyn. There, I said it. And I'm not ashamed. I have a new book and I want to sell hundreds of thousands of copies. I want to be on best-seller lists. I want to be bigger than Jesus.

Mark Steyn is bigger than Jesus. And for that he can thank a handful of Muslims.

Or more precisely, he can thank a handful of Muslim goofballs who can't quite grasp that trying to censor an author who claims Muslims in western countries aren't embracing western traditions of individual liberty is perhaps not the most effective rebuttal of the author's thesis. The first hearing on the goofballs' complaint against Mark Steyn and Maclean's magazine - which published the offending excerpt from Steyn's book America Alone - was heard this week by a British Columbia human rights tribunal.

Maclean's is making a huge deal of it, naturally. But they're hardly alone. The CBC, the National Post, the Globe and Mail, the Canadian Press, all the Canwest papers and a long list of bloggers and columnists in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom - all are reporting, discussing and dissecting the tribulations of Mark Steyn.

Now, I know there are very serious issues involved. The whole thing is obscene, an affront to liberal democracy, a wretched simulacrum of justice undeserving of the slightest respect. I know that as a citizen and a writer.

But as a writer, I also know it's gold. And, oh, do I want me some of that."

Gardner goes on to explain that the complainants would have been better off to take their beef with the article to some other media outlet and just debunk Steyn's claims; apparently something easily done given that his whole premise hinges on demography. Instead, by errantly using the Human Rights apparatus, the complainants have taken on the role of would-be censors and cast Steyn as a "free speech martyr" who now inspires the kind of drooling idolatry in evidence back here (and here). Further, they couldn't have done Steyn a bigger favour in terms of raising the profile of the very book that was the source of the offending article.

I've always thought this complaint, like the Levant "offensive cartoons" complaint, was silly and frivolous, serving no purpose other than allowing the "defendants" to preen and posture and bask in their supporters' slavering adoration... and sell books. When the complaint is tossed, as well it should be, I wonder who'll be relieved and who'll be disappointed.

UPDATE: Oh, the drama! Frank Frink in the comments advises us that as expected, someone is unhappy, not relieved, and disappointed:

"The man whose controversial writing is in front of a B.C. Human Rights tribunal is daring the system to rule against him." [...]

"“We want to lose,” Mr. Steyn said Friday." (emphasis mine)
Well no shit Sherlock. Ironically, this is one situation where he's unlikely to be a loser.